To Rhyme or not to Rhyme

My fellow poets/poetry lovers,

Out of all the rules a good poem follows (or doesn't) where does rhyme come in? Many people, especially today's editors have a problem with poetry with a rhyme scheme. I suppose they feel it is more for children and helping you remember things than a valuable tool for more "mature" poetry. I must tell you, I disagree.

Don't worry, before I get on a rant of the virtues I must tell you I am not a fan of certain aspects of rhyming poetry but it generally gets down to how some people perceive it. A fair amount of people who talk about poetry think of it as a genre ONLY of rhyme and that thinking sells poetry short. I have some acquaintances who have said to me how easy it would be to slam words together like: be, tree, see, me, tea, etc. It is like saying all a carpenter does is lift boards for a living. I also don't like how some writers GO for the easy rhyme just to make it sound (they believe) more poetic; if it doesn't enhance your piece, don't add it.

Now, the good news: I like rhyming poetry and I am not alone in this. Yes, I said many people don't care for it but I do. Different descriptions, iambic pentameter, varying poetic forms, line breaks, and so on are just tools available to us as poets to get the job done. Some poets tend to use certain tools more than others. You may not use your wrench every day but your mechanic sure uses it often enough. (Yes, it is like that.) Don't let the opinions of others dictate to you which devices you should or shouldn't use. No more peer pressure folks, we're big kids now! If you don't WANT to use rhyme then it is your choice but try not to look down on those who want every available option.

This next part may be a bit of a leap but I feel people who haven't connected to poetry much or refuse to read it will have an easier time identifying with the rhyme scheme type of poem. Am I saying people are dumb? Of course not and shame on you! But when you were young, did you read classic poets who rhymed or did you read more free verse? There is something in the majority of us that responded to it and it is a known fact that children enjoy rhyming poetry. Why? The musicality of rhyme along with a good base stanza is hard to resist and it is something we never fully grow out of. You don't believe me? Those of you who like music with words, track down your favorite song lyrics and read them out loud. (Music that has words is nothing but poetry set to a melody.) Poetry speaks to us whether we like it or not. Rhyme isn't just for jogging memories or delighting children. And I, for one, am glad.

Everyone is welcome to sound off in my comments about this issue. Rhyming poetry: Yes or No?

Happy rhyme time,

Jennifer Jackson

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